DISCLAIMER: Not mine. No money made. C.S.I. and C and S belong to CBS & Mr. Bruckheimer, while I belong to myself, as does this little story.
TIMEFRAME: late Season Three.
ARCHIVING: NT and P&P only.

Crash and Yearn
By Nique Bartok


My daughter has her arm in a plaster cast and she honest to God thinks it looks cool. I suppose I should be glad, as long as she doesn't try to break an arm again anytime soon. I'm driving us home from the hospital even though I probably shouldn't be driving after today, but I don't want a strange cab and a strange cab driver around us now. I need to be alone with Lindsey. I need to make sure she is okay. Looking over at her, I catch her looking at her cast as if it was a fashionable accessory.

She was disappointed when I told her that we couldn't see Sara right away to sign it. They'll keep her at the hospital overnight, just to make sure there is no serious trauma to the head. The last I heard was that she was in local anesthetic; they were still trying to patch up her back.

Lindsey seems pensive, and I am scared that perhaps I cannot get through to her, and it leaves me feeling helpless. I just hope I can make it better. I wasn't there.

"Mommy?" I turn my head to look at her. "Can I sleep with the light on tonight?"

"Of course." I choke on my reply at her hesitant tone. Tears are welling up in my eyes again at her question. I wish I could take this all away. "Was it very dark in there?" I ask tentatively.

"Yes." Lindsey nods, her face serious.

"You were very brave," I try to assure her. I have to take a deep breath before I can continue. I don't want to fall apart in front of her now because right now, she needs me to be strong for her. "I would have been in there with you, if I could."

"I know," Lindsey's expression is still serious and again I have to think that she seems to have grown up a year during this. "Sara said that, too."

I look at her for a moment, gripping the steering wheel a bit tighter. "What did she say?" I'll bet Sara wished I was in her place, and I don't blame her for it. I would have traded with her in a heartbeat. But what did she say to my daughter about that?

"That you would get me out," Lindsey explains guilelessly. "We looked at the evidence, and it said that you love me, and that you are also a scientist and know that everyone has to work very carefully. And that you wouldn't let anything happen to me."

"Damn right," I confirm, relief washing over me. The idea of Sara giving scientific lectures on parental love is wildly surreal, but I have to admit that I am impressed.

"She knows all about science, and how bones heal," Lindsey continues, and she sounds impressed, too, even if for vastly different reasons. "But I told her she has to look at evidence with the heart, too, because the heart doesn't lie."

I barely keep myself from snorting. The image of her counseling a reluctant Sara is priceless. "What did Sara say?" I want to know. I can only think of how Sara would scoff at that.

Lindsey shrugs. "She said I was right."

I blink. Somehow I don't think Sara would tell Lindsey – or anyone else – something just to please them. Not even under such extreme circumstances.

I suddenly remember how she looked at me when I thanked her, and how she brushed me off, uncomfortable with my gratitude. Not arrogant or gloating, but almost embarrassed. And I remember her looking at Lindsey, saying that she is a great kid. And her voice was quiet. Emotional, and caring.

None of this quite fits into the image I have of Sara – cool, harsh, guarded, arrogant, and always at the ready to find a chance to prove herself over me. I am beginning to think that I might have to readjust my image.

Perhaps it's not arrogance that makes her act so aloofly, but fear to tread wrongly. Not overconfidence, but uncertainty. Perhaps her gruffness is not attack, but defense. And after what I saw today, I can't continue to call her insensitive and unemotional. – Perhaps emotions simply don't transmit that easily into words for her. They certainly transmit into action, though. I am still stuck on the image of Lindsey's broken arm carefully encased in the makeshift black bandage, and Sara in the awkwardly torn top, and I didn't even know then how badly her back was hurt.

And she didn't even want any thanks.

Modesty. Honor. Empathy. Qualities I have never associated with Sara before, but all of a sudden, I do. Perhaps that is what fuels her – there is that knightly image again – justice and honor, simple as that.

"Do you know the Kingdom of Math?" Lindsey asks, completely non sequitur.

"No…?" I stall, wondering whether this is a new thing she learned at school, but she hasn't been to school today, and she won't go tomorrow, either, and if I could, I'd never leave her out of my sight again at all.

"It's a fairy tale," Lindsey explains gravely.

"Aha." I stop at a streetlight, thinking that if it's from a story book, maybe we could buy the book right away. Some story-reading on the couch with my daughter sounds like the perfect plan for tomorrow. "Where did you hear it?"

Lindsey looks at me as if I ought to know that. "Sara told me."

My double take must have comical proportions. "Sara?"

"I made her tell me a story," Lindsey explains in that tone she has reserved for me when she is thinking how adults can be so incredibly slow at times. I smile, glad that things are returning to normal, even if only by the most mundane of fractions. "She didn't want to at first, but I let her choose the theme."

My kid is a genius. If she can make Sara Sidle tell fairy tales, she also will one day stop global warming and possibly find a cure for Alzheimer, too.

"She made it about math, because she is good with math. But it was funny, and really cool." If she can make Lindsey rate a story about math as 'cool', Sara definitely moves up on the list of people with the ability to stop global warming herself, and by no slow speed.

"You know that the Five is the king of the numbers?" Lindsey continues, unaware of my musings.

"Aha," I manage, dumbfounded. "Why is that?"

Lindsey grins excitedly. And then she tells me. In Sara's fairy characters, there's responsibility, and caring and humor – some of it definitely sailing above Lindsey's head, I can tell, but I have to chuckle at it. I never knew Sara could be so inventive. Not even with evidence. Precise, yes. Brilliant, yes. But inventive?

When Lindsey is suddenly talking about Dalmatians I need a moment before I understand that they belong to the story as well. Inventive indeed. And Lindsey asks me whether I know what an ermine is.

I am still dumbfounded by Sara's obvious intuition and imagination.

Absently, I wonder whether she is sleeping now at the hospital. We, or rather Lindsey, went to check on her before Lindsey was scheduled to finally get her cast. I stood at the door, feeling as if I was intruding while I watched. Sara was sitting up, looking very tired. I wondered why they'd only sat her on a footstool and didn't assign her a bed already, but the nurse told me they'd still need to tend to her back properly and couldn't lay her face down because of the head wound. I only caught a glimpse of her back injury, when Lindsey tried to hug her goodbye. Most of it was covered in some kind of coagulating gel, and I shied away from the sight. Sara didn't look at me, perhaps she didn't even notice me in her state of exhaustion, but she talked to Lindsey, and in a very simple, but serious way. As if they were peers. It was a weird image, my daughter standing in Sara's personal space and holding her hand, and Sara taking it in stride, Lindsey looking up at her with an instinctive trust that I'd never thought Sara could inspire in anyone.

Lindsey interrupts my thoughts. "Can we go see Sara tomorrow? When she is home?" She looks at me pleadingly. "She promised to sign my cast!"

"Sure," I agree absently. And I think that I can never make this up to Sara. And that obviously, I never knew anything about Sara.

"I like Sara," Lindsey says quietly, obviously sensing that I have to think about this. "She's great."

"Yes, she is," I murmur, still hung up on that unexpected discovery.


I wake up because somebody is ringing on my apartment door. Repeatedly.

It takes me a while to get up from the couch where I am resting for now. I can sit, carefully, but I am not allowed to lie down on my back yet. And I can't really breathe deeply at the moment because they wrapped my bandages very tightly. There's also some gauze taped to the right side of my forehead. The gash there wasn't deep, but I have the mother of all bruises to go with it and all the swelling made the wound reopen so they had to stitch it after all. I'm still on some pain medication, and with all this gauze and my slightly dazed state, I feel like the Mummy after a boxing match. Whoever is visiting – I'm thinking Greg or Bobby or perhaps both of them – will have to cope with that.

But instead, Lindsey and Catherine are standing at my door, Catherine smiling a bit sheepishly while Lindsey just beams at me. I grin back at her. It feels good to see her.

"She wanted you to sign her cast," Catherine offers apologetically, the car keys still dangling from her fingers.

"Of course, I promised!" I say, motioning them in. From the corner of my eye, I see Lindsey give Catherine a look that clearly says 'told you so'.

Lindsay brought her own set of permanent pens and they look so brand new that I am guessing they were Catherine's first investment of the day. She signed already, it says 'Mom' broadly across the plaster and she even drew some flowers. I wonder at what point mothers learn to do such things, and just the right way; whether it's intuition, or whether the kids actually teach the mothers. Taking my cue from Catherine's technique, I write 'Sara' in big letters and underneath I try to draw a big-bellied five with a little crown on top and Lindsey beams at me again.

Until she detects the little perpetuum mobile on the windowsill and by her look, I know that she will be occupied for the next hour, observing how the balls bounce back and forth, and trying to figure out how the motion gets transmitted to the ball at the other end without the ones in the middle moving. I watch the frown on her face as she reaches in to stop the ball on one side with her fingers, trying to find out what the trick is. I'm grinning. That girl is a scientist already.

Meanwhile, I am settling onto the couch with Catherine. I'm embarrassed at how long it takes me to sit down again, and I am half expecting some cool comment on Catherine's part, but there is none forthcoming, and I remember that we're on this strange truce of sorts due to Lindsey.

And also due to Catherine not being as I always thought she was. I have to give her that. After how she was with Lindsey, and with me, after the explosion, I clearly have to change my opinion of her, but I don't know yet what the new one will be.

"You wouldn't have needed to come over," I say politely, although actually I am glad that they did.

"She wanted to." Catherine shrugs with a smile, pointing at Lindsey who now tries to make only half of the balls do the same effect, and I can see the moment where she understands that the force of the motion is proportional to the number of balls. "I could hardly stop her last night," Catherine adds with a chuckle, but then she grows serious. "How are you?"

It sounds as if she is asking for herself just as much as for Lindsey, but I still don't really know how to handle 'friendly Catherine'. "I told you, you don't have to feel obliged," I say. She's looking at me like that again, as if she can see into the very heart of me, and it is unnerving.

Catherine will have none of that, though. Her no nonsense expression is one I know well. "And I told you, I'll be forever indebted to you, Sara, but it's not about that." Even she is looking down at her hands now, and I see that this situation is getting to her, too. "I can't look at you like I did before." She meets my eyes again, and again, I am struck by how blue they can be up close. Or perhaps they are always this blue and I just never noticed it. "Lindsey told me a bedtime story last night, about the Dalmatians of King Five, Princess Nine and the Knight of Seven."

I blush. "Yeah that… I don't really know any kid stories…"

She interrupts me. "Sara, you were perfect."

I blush harder.

She shakes her head, obviously needing to say something. "This is not about feeling obliged. I told you, I will forever be, but this is something else." She seems frustrated, looking for the words that for once, don't seem to come easily for her. "All this… makes me see you differently. – How about we start over? I'd like to."

"I guess we could do better," I mumble and wonder who this kind, caring and warm-hearted woman on my couch is and how it comes that I have never seen her before.

She holds out her hand to me. "Hi, I am Catherine. And I think you're dedicated, and smart, and great with my kid, and I'd like to get to know you better."

I've never been blushing that badly in my life.

"I'm Sara," I say, grasping her hand. There's that look in her eyes again and I blurt out the first thing coming to my mind. "And I think you can't help being beautiful. And I think you're a great mother, and loving, and caring, and that makes you all the more beautiful. And I'd like to get to know you better, too."

While I still can't believe I just say that out loud, blaming it on my medication, she looks at me a bit puzzled, canting her head to the side, but then she smiles at me, and it is as if her whole face is smiling, even her eyes light up and sparkle. It is so genuine that it makes me want to cry again. Must be the medication. "I'm pleased to meet you, Sara," she says and leans over to hug me.

She has to do all the movement to hug me because I can't really move my tightly bandaged back from the couch and it is kind of awkward. But this is Catherine, and she's as undeterred as ever. She is hovering above me in the end, having to halfway straddle my thighs to be able to lean in enough to reach me, and the first thing I think is how I've never realized how good she smells, and then I am puzzled, wondering why I would notice that of all things. Her hug is gentle, her hands on my back incredibly tender, mindful of my injury. Tentatively, I hug her back. Her hair brushes softly against my cheek and my back somehow hurts a whole lot less.


Sara is over to dinner. Again. Lindsey insists that she's over at least two times a week. She has a bit of hero worship going on with Sara, and I think I do, as well. She never once complained, and I know that her back must have hurt like hell. I saw it first when we were over visiting her unannounced after school one day because Lindsey just had to tell Sara right away that she had gotten an A in her math class. We arrived at Sara's when she was in the middle of trying to change the bandages on her own, which was a decidedly stupid and also a decidedly Sara thing to do. It made me angry that she wouldn't ask for help, and I told her so, but then I could understand that she hates feeling helpless and dependent when she was angry in return.

I was probably more embarrassed at finding her in a state of undress than she was, but between the three of us, even if Lindsey can only really use one arm these days, the whole rewrapping went a lot faster. It was more than a week after the crash, and her back still looked horrible.

After that, we've taken to changing the bandages when Sara is over to dinner at my place, which, as of recent, tends to happens a lot. And since Sara is on medical leave right now and I really don't like the idea of Lindsey sleeping anywhere but in her own bed for the time being, Sara offered to baby-sit her when I had to go back to work. Without Sara, cases are piling up at the lab and Gil couldn't spare me for more than a few days.

I don't know what surprised me more, Sara's offer to baby-sit Lindsey, or Lindsey's obvious happiness when I agreed. At first I thought Lindsey simply needed some bonding time with Sara after the trauma they went through together, needing to make sure that she was safe, but I think she also really likes her.

And I think I do, too.

Right now Sara is wearing the tanktop that I bought her as a replacement for the one she ruined to wrap Lindsey's arm. I was telling her how I could never make it up to her anyway, but that she should at least let me try a bit here and there. She tried to refuse it, but then she smiled as she took it.

Lindsey helped pick out the tanktop, so it is kind of baby blue and it has tiny flowers on it and I think that Sara probably hates the color scheme, but Lindsey was so happy when Sara put it on right away, carefully, over her bandage, that Sara now makes a point of wearing it a lot when she's seeing us. It's such a sweet and sensitive gesture on her part and I know she knows that I've picked up on it, but she'd never address it and so I don't, either.

I really like her.

She even wore that tanktop in public, to the park earlier today; she and Lindsey had for some reason decided that they wanted to play ball games in the park. They must have accomplished some serious bonding during the crash that I will probably never fully comprehend, but the most astonishing thing about it is that it does not make me feel jealous or uncomfortable.

I'm still amazed at how easily Lindsey is getting through to Sara, and at how Sara is warming up to her in return. And, by extension, to me. Perhaps it is because with Lindsey, she can't put on a cool, science-oriented demeanor – or perhaps it's simply that with Lindsey, she doesn't have to do that in the first place.

I could never really picture Sara as a kid and I am wondering whether she had forgotten what it felt like, or whether something made her want to forget it. But when I watch her with Lindsey, it is as if she can suddenly remember what it was like. And she seems to enjoy it, no questions asked. With Lindsey, she foregoes her scientific approach to each and every thing and simply reacts to life around her more unguardedly. In fact, she seems to enjoy it so much that I ask myself whether that is something she wasn't allowed to do when she was young herself.

Today is the first day Sara can go without the bandage again and she was teaching Lindsey one-handed catches in the park, albeit careful ones – I insisted on that, for both of their sakes – because Lindsey still needs to wear the cast. Luckily, she still thinks it's fashionable. More or less her entire school has signed it by now and she is rather proud of it.

Seeing Sara without the gauze is a relief, as well - especially in that baby blue top. Lindsey made a great choice; it is lower cut than what Sara usually wears and it has very thin, girly straps. It shows off a lot more of Sara's upper body than her own outfits would, including a nice amount of cleavage. And as of recent, I've found that I really don't mind watching that.


For some unfathomable reason, I can't stop looking at her. She is busy over at the stove cooking dinner, and I am sitting at the kitchen table with Lindsey where I am actually supposed to look at her homework. Not at her mother.

Lindsey's already done with her homework, though, and right now I am explaining her the basic principle of fractions, and I make up a place where they live in the Kingdom of Math. The matter is actually too advanced for her, but she asked and it seems as if Math is her new favorite subject at school. Every new thing she learns, we integrate into the fairly tale. I'm getting better with the storytelling, and Lindsey is getting better with Math. She got straight As on her last two tests and I feel silly for being so proud of her. I'll admit that I studied a bit with her and taught her a few tricks, but most of it, she did all on her own.

I even bought her a small pocketknife, the girliest one I could find: pink mother of pearl, with harmless little things like nail scissors and a nail file, and a teeny tiny knife because otherwise it wouldn't be a real pocketknife. I also made sure that it had definitely no corkscrew. Catherine still kind of freaked, but we've talked about how Lindsey is a responsible kid, and how it would make her feel safe for now. Of course she's not allowed to carry it to school or anywhere on her own, but it it's on top of her dresser in her room, and when Catherine goes somewhere with her or when I'm over and we go for a walk she always tucks it into the pocket of her jeans, like I wear mine. I think it really makes her feel safer. At nights, she still sleeps with the light on, ever since the crash.

It's a special day today. I will go back to work tonight, finally, and today in a week, Lindsey's cast comes off. She says she'll put it in her room after they cut it off and it seems that she is almost sorry to lose it.

I look over at Catherine at the stove again. The whole scene is preposterously domestic, Catherine cooking and Lindsey and I doing homework and talking about fractions. I'm loving every single moment of it.

I've learned a lot about Catherine in these past few weeks and with some of it, I am amazed she doesn't lose her temper more often. Eddie left her with some nasty baggage, although she doesn't talk about it much. I am sure glad that the guy is out of her life for good, even though I'd never say that to her face. He's Lindsey's father after all.

Another thing I've never really known is how bad the working conditions for a single mother are. I just never thought about it before, but now I think there should be some extra rules for that, even if just among the team. Perhaps someone should alert Grissom to that. I'm thinking that someone might be me.

I've also learned that Catherine likes the horrible junk food they sell in the park where Lindsey likes to go, and that she laughs a lot more when she is not at work. I think some of her ability to enjoy the moment, and she definitely has that, comes from her time as a dancer. She probably had to hold on to the good moments while they lasted to make it through all the others. She doesn't really talk about her old profession. It's not that she would be embarrassed, that would not be like her, but it's clear that she has seen some ugly things and I am thinking that some of them probably happened to her, too, and it's not things she wants to be reminded of.

Another thing I've learnt about her is that Lindsey can wheedle almost anything out of her when she sets her mind to it, and I always have to smirk when I witness such a scene because it is too cute for words to see Catherine being outmaneuvered by her own techniques.

I don't know how things are going to be between us when I return to work now, and I am almost hesitant about it, knowing that we'll probably be headed into the first territorial fight before the night is over. But perhaps we won't be. I understand a whole lot more about Catherine now, and why she reacts how she reacts sometimes. And I'm surprising myself when I find myself thinking that I really like her.


I'm watching her from across the break room where she is too absorbed in the latest science magazine to even notice my unannounced arrival. She will realize I am here any minute, but these few moments which I have just to myself to watch her openly are my private guilty pleasure.

She has been back to work for two weeks now, and other than that sometimes, she still moves a bit stiffly when she needs to crouch or bend down in the field, or that she jumps when you touch her back without warning, especially in the dark, she seems fine. I know I'm paired up with her tonight, we're in the middle of a rather tedious robbery case, but the thought of working with her all night long is enough to make me smile. I've taken a ridiculous amount of time getting dressed for this shift.

Work is almost back to normal again, apart from the repair crews outside, and from the fact that we'll have to give up the other building in the long run. Stability issues. Right now, we only don't have any real place to take apart cars or bigger machinery.

It turned out that the crash was caused on purpose after all, some crazy suspect trying to blow up evidence in the storage area. It was a hard one to track down, Grissom and Nick spent nearly two weeks on it, but it's over now. Also, we've upgraded security. I suppose it's a good thing that said suspect is safely behind bars because I am still entertaining fantasies of killing him, or at least beating him up really bad, for what he did to Lindsey. And also for what he did to Sara.

I've learned a lot about Sara these past few weeks, especially since we also talk more at work now. We're actually working together. We've gotten into little fights here and there, perhaps just out of habit, but for the most part, we're getting along well.

I know now that she really gets serious nightmares from bad cases, often for weeks on end. And she has admitted that she was in such a funk after Eddie's case not only because she felt she had been failing professionally, but also because she had been failing me as a colleague. Seems I had her respect even when I thought I didn't. I also know that something bad happened to her when she was little, not with her parents, but with a friend of theirs and that her parents didn't take it seriously; she only mentioned it on the side but it wasn't hard to piece together.

I also know she can cook mean chocolate pudding and Lindsey says it's the best ever. I should probably be insulted or envious, but I'm not. The pudding is great.

Also, I've noticed that she has the calmest and most beautiful hands. I often catch myself watching her when she is so absorbed in some piece of evidence that she doesn't even realize I'm there. And her legs really are endless.

I am much more aware of how tall she is, and of how strong her arms are. When she's playing with Lindsey, or when she's taking something off a high shelf at work, I can't help but stare as her muscles flex with the movement.

Lately, when I look at her, all I can see are her beauty and strength. The deep, warm color of her eyes, the cadences of her voice and the preciousness of one of her rare, beautiful smiles. I've taken on the quest to make her smile at least once per shift, and most of the time, I succeed. I also held her one time, about a week ago, when she was crying over a case, and that she let me do it made me feel as if I was eight feet tall and very humble at the same time.

Sometimes I wonder if she's aware of this thing developing between us. We're clearly treating each other very differently from how we used to, which has a lot to do with us actually getting to know each other on a more personal level. Never mind it took us three years. Thanks to Lindsey, we're spending a near criminally big amount of time together, but sometimes I think that even if it weren't for Lindsey demanding 'Sara time', we'd still meet up. There is some tension between us again as of late, not completely different from before, but differently slanted.

I know the energy. I've been with women before. It's a bit of an occupational hazard in the profession I worked. Sometimes, you just can't stand the sight, much less the hands of another man, simply because you know them too well. I look at my recent flings with men, since Eddie and I broke up it's been men mostly, apart from one or two more intense flirts with women, and I think that perhaps it is time for a woman again. I know I am definitely interested. I've been getting signals from her, too, but she seems completely unaware of it. I am asking myself sometimes if she really doesn't get it, or if she simply doesn't want to let it on. She has only talked about the occasional guy so far, and I know she was sad because of Hank for a while, but the Grissom thing seems to be over for her, and the way she looks at me when she thinks I'm not watching has definitely nothing straight. I've tried to bring it up in conversation, but really, how does one go about that? 'Hey, I've caught you looking at me, oh and look at your track record with guys, do you think you might be gay?' It would just be so typically Sara if she indeed was gay, but never really figured it out, simply due to lack of hard evidence.

I'm beginning to think I'd like to change that. To give her some evidence. Perhaps I find a way to address this later this week. Even though Lindsey is out on a sleepover on our night off – it's the first time I'm letting Lindsey sleep out of mine or Nancy's home since the crash, and I am only doing it because she is really getting cranky over my protectiveness – we still decided to meet up at my place and watch some movie other than Disney for a change. We both said that we just don't have anything better to do, although actually, I was planning on it. I want it to be a date. Only Sara doesn't know that yet.

When I watch her I think of her in terms of how she moves or how sexy her voice sounds when it's low and tired at the end of a long shift. I wonder what her hands would feel like on my body, and whether she'd let me kiss her if I tried to.

Sometimes I think I am being painfully obvious. I think even Greg has caught on to it. As of late, he's been grinning at me whenever Sara is around.


Catherine looks great. It's the first thought coming to my mind when she opens the door to let me in. Actually, she looks downright fantastic.

I don't believe anymore that she only does it to flirt and tease the guys. I think she just likes to be beautiful for herself sometimes. Otherwise, she wouldn't dress up for a movie night on the couch with me. Perhaps 'dress up' is the wrong expression, I don't think she'd leave the house in this – faded jeans, in the same tight-but-not-too-tight cut she prefers for her pants, and an untucked, deep blue shirt that looks like silk and when she hugs me hello, I know it is silk for real, I can feel it under my fingertips.

And then I notice that she has left the three top buttons open, displaying a hint of cleavage.

A quite generous hint, actually.

I don't think Catherine would go out like this, and I don't think I'd want her to, not that it doesn't look good on her. It does. Sexy, even.

I can understand that some nights, Catherine likes to be sexy just for herself. And I think it's a good sign for the friendship we're building that she is comfortable enough to also do it in my presence. Dressing up makes her feel good about herself, she told me that – and I always thought she did it to put the other women at work down. Namely, me.

But Catherine simply likes to look good. Not that she ever really manages to not look good. But sometimes, she needs to feel special, I guess. Everyone does. For me, it's good, expensive food, or a scalp massage at the hairdresser's, or the look into the mirror after a long session at the gym. For Catherine, it's dressing up, even if she's the only one who'll see it. She has no affair on the side right now to dress up for.

She'd have told me if there was anyone. We tell each other a whole lot now.

Being friends with Catherine is still new and surreal at times, most of all because the qualities that ticked me off about her for the past three years are suddenly the most endearing to me – her stubbornness, her cordiality, her friendliness, her caring. Even the way she dresses.

I notice a lot more how she looks recently, and I don't really know why. Even when I didn't like her, I always conceded to the fact that she is beautiful. But now I can also recall what she's wearing on particular nights. Perhaps it comes from spending so much time with her and Lindsey, but I think I have most of her wardrobe memorized by now. I could even name favorites. This shirt she is wearing is new, however, but it really looks exceptionally good on her, so I'll add it to the list of favorites.

"Great shirt," I comment as I sit down on her couch, leaning back carefully. It's a habit I still can't shake, even though the scar tissue on my back has been healing nicely so far. "Looks good on you."

Catherine smiles at me, more splendidly than such a simple comment would justify, but she seems to be in a good mood. And a bit nervous. I guess it is because Lindsey is sleeping out of home tonight for the first time since the explosion. I try to smile back at her reassuringly – it's been getting easier for me to just react around Catherine, and not always think first, like I used to, about what I should let her see and what not – and for a moment we just look at each other. Suddenly, the ticking of the clock next door in the kitchen seems to be very loud. I have to swallow.

We get these weird moments sometimes, and when Lindsey's not around, they're even more frequent. I think it's because our friendship is still so new, and because we both have had to seriously adjust our images of each other – so that sometimes, we're simply looking at it, and at each other, amazed at what we're having now. I know I am. Sometimes, that is a bit uncomfortable – like the silence as she's sitting down next to me now, curling her feet half under her, while I can't think of a thing to say, but I am looking at her somehow – and I haven't really figured out why yet. It is as if there is still some residue of the tension we've had between us for the past few years. It doesn't feel that negative, though. Just a bit weird.

Catherine offers me a glass of wine and I see only now that there is a bottle of wine on the couch table, and even a candle, one of those elegant ones, long and thin.

It looks as if Catherine felt she deserved some self-provided pampering tonight, and I am definitely not objecting to sharing in on the treat. The wine is very good.

Perhaps she also needs some distraction from Lindsey not being home but sleeping elsewhere – she seems to be really nervous about it, and I'm trying to tell her that Lindsey will be fine, and that it is important for Lindsey to get her self-confidence back and do things more independently again. Catherine nods distractedly, but she still seems nervous, looking down at her hands, absently tugging at the cuffs of her shirt. Following her gaze, I find myself thinking, again, that the shirt looks great on her.

A glass of wine later, she asks me when I've last been in love and I have the nagging feeling that there is something I should get when she looks at me. As if she expects something, but I don't know what it could be. There is not much juicy talk to share concerning my relationships or the lack thereof, simply because I am not the romance kind of person. I shrug in reply, telling her that there was Grissom for a while, or rather that I thought he could be, but that I've decided to put it to rest. Catherine looks relieved and I wonder why; I didn't think he was her type. To be honest, I don't think he could cope with someone as outgoing and energetic as Catherine. She certainly wouldn't let him go on about his bugs when she is trying to juggle the cleaning in between doing the groceries and picking up Lindsey from school. And I wonder what Grissom would look like after a few rounds of ball games in the park with Catherine and Lindsey. They even wear me out, and I am definitely more athletic than Grissom is.

Also, Catherine is probably much more passion than Grissom could ever handle. For a moment, I am trying to imagine what she would look like, head thrown back, breathing heavily, a fine sheen of sweat covering her skin. And my mind is somehow stuck on repeat. It is warm in the room, I think. I haven't really taken my eyes off Catherine, but I only realize that when something wells up in her eyes in response to my look. It's deep and wild and blue and wonderful and scary all at the same time, and I am so caught up in that look that I don't notice how it comes that her face is suddenly very close to mine.

And then her lips are on mine and my whole world comes unglued around me.


I didn't expect her reaction. That is the only thing I can still think before the concept of thought dissipates under the hot touch of Sara's tongue against mine.

She looked almost petrified when I leaned in and I was prepared for her to shy away from the kiss, smiling that cute nervous little smile of hers, asking me what the hell I think I am doing. I certainly didn't expect her kiss me back like she does. And God how she does.

She really didn't seem to have a clue, but I just couldn't resist. I could see by how she looked at me that even if she wasn't thinking about it, every bit of her body was. That's a knowledge a few years in the business will get you. My kiss was tentative, but obviously, my worries have been unnecessary. It's as if I put a lightened match to a barrel of gunpowder, and now I am caught in the middle of the fireworks. Not that I am complaining.

We break apart and I struggle to catch my breath, thinking that I can't even remember the last time a kiss managed to knock me off my feet like this. Sara is staring at me with wide, wild eyes, her expression awed and I marvel at the amount of affection in it. I can't believe I ever thought that she wasn't an emotional person. Granted, she is usually very guarded, but right now, every bit of emotion seems to be drawn out into the open, making it all the more precious, and I am absolutely blown away by it.

Sara answers my gaze, her eyes are large and unfocused, and she blinks to readjust them to the small, yet too big space between us. "Uh… Catherine?" It's all she gets out and even with that, she has to clear her throat. Her voice is low.

Seeing Sara so lost in sensation – cool and guarded Sara Sidle, no less – makes my heartbeat speed up. That sight, and the knowledge that it's been my kiss that unraveled her like this. Images of how much more I want to do to her flash through my mind.

She tentatively reaches out a hand, one of those hands that I have been fantasizing about for weeks, and trails it along my face, following the line of my jaw. There is such reverence in the gesture that I feel like something incredibly rare and special. When the pad of her thumb slowly brushes over my lips, my heart stops for a beat or two to then beat even faster than before. I want to suck her finger into my mouth, mold every inch of my body to hers and sink into all that is Sara. But I don't want to break the moment. This is her call. And my heart is beating out of my chest, just from the way she looks at me.

"Can I kiss you again?" She looks at my lips when she asks me. When she meets my eyes again her expression is a bit sheepish, as if she's embarrassed about getting so carried away, and I decide in this very moment that I will wipe that expression off her face and replace it with one she doesn't even know she is capable of yet.

"Please," I say and my own voice is rough, too. I can't help smiling – relieved, and giddy, and I marvel at how young I suddenly feel. Not a day over fifteen, not when she looks at me like that. As if everything is new all over again.

And then she is smiling, too. Widely. As if she has just discovered an unimaginable treasure. It's a beautiful sight. I wonder if she has ever kissed a woman before, and even though it is hard to believe, from her reaction just now I think that she hasn't. And then I stop thinking because she is leaning in and kissing me again.

When we come up for air the next time, I'm pressed back into the cushions of my couch and Sara's hands have found their way under my shirt. The amount of money I spent on this garment has hereby been justified, I decide, and that's my last coherent thought for a while as her fingers map the skin of my stomach. Her touch is hesitant, as if she isn't sure I will approve of it, but her fingers are the same secure calm I fantasized about. Thorough. Attentive. Passionate. She looks at the outline of her fingers under the silk, and when I arch up into her touch, she closes her eyes and bites her lip. Seeing her reaction, witnessing her so unguardedly lost in sensation, takes my breath away.

I'm beginning to think that I'm going to do a lot more tonight than tentatively ask her for a date, and whether she might be interested in one at all. Which had been the original plan, but I think it's safe to say that plans got changed somewhere between her looking at me, and me kissing her in reply. I can't stop. Perhaps I'll never be able to stop again, but most of all, I can't stop right now.

And judging by how she looks at me, Sara can't, either. Her fingers are inching higher and higher under my shirt. With maddening precision, and at an absolutely maddening pace.



I try to convince her to move faster by distracting her with kisses. Which only works so far and leads to her kissing me just as slowly and thoroughly as her fingers are stroking over my torso. If I don't pass out from sensory overload within the next five minutes, I will probably go insane.

By the time I finally have her in my bedroom – not that I remember much how we actually got here - and hear the door close behind us with a satisfactory click, my entire perception has dimmed down to her eyes and her touch.

But even in this haze, I am suddenly nervous when it comes to undressing her, and my fingers tangle in the hem of her shirt - I reason that it's not that big a deal, after all I've seen her upper body enough with changing her bandages for nearly a month, but this is different, somehow, and all is new again. I shy away from just stripping her bare, and in this moment, I know I am in deep already. When I fear that just the sight of her will overwhelm me. Already, it's not about just giving in to our bodies anymore, but about so much more. I want to see it all. Remember it all. So that in case she decides she doesn't want it in the end, I have something nobody can take away from me. I already care so much.

I have hesitated too long, Sara's lips are slowly moving away from my neck, and she looks at me questioningly and I can only think of how deep and warm her eyes are. Uncertainty creeps into Sara's expression, and then the slightly hunched, defensive posture I know so well from work creeps back into her body. She shrugs. "Nothing you haven't seen yet…" And it hurts that her tone is so apologetic.

I shake my head. "I've never seen you like this." My fingers trace in circles along her sides and I know I don't need to elaborate because the tone of my voice gives me away. How much I want this. How much I want her.

"You know I have scars," Sara stalls and I am thinking that perhaps she is talking about more than her body. Even though she hasn't moved away, the bold, unguarded Sara who simply kissed me back on the couch seems to shrink into the background.

I want to say something profound, to ease all of her doubts with one simple phrase, but I know I'll need more words, many more, and also things that are not words at all, to accomplish that.

I try to break through her doubts with humor. "Think you can compare to my stretch marks?" I joke, although I don't feel that certain about my body in her presence. I know I am in good shape. But I also know that I am less athletic than she is, and that I am not as young as she is and the comparison makes me all the more aware of it. Perhaps she won't want me that much anymore when she sees me – me, without the alluring outfits and overconfident attitude. But Sara just looks at me, and then she traces my face with her fingers again and there is so much emotion in her expression that something in me – and that something is damn close to my heart – is overflowing in response. She doesn't need to say anything. She looks at me, and I am the most beautiful woman in the world just by the way she looks at me.

In this moment, I am not the aging colleague, not the woman who bore a child and is a mother before everything else, not the dancer who has seen it all, and has been seen by all. Right now, I'm just Catherine, and there are still things I haven't seen or done yet. For one infinitely priceless moment, with her looking at me and me holding her closer in response, there is only Catherine and Sara, and then nothing more and I love her for making me feel like this.

Only when I start to feel lightheaded, I realize that I have forgotten to breathe. And I know I need to see her. I need to touch her, all of her. I need to make her feel what she makes me feel. I need her to see me. And we're tearing at each other's clothes after all.

I'm thinking that it's going to be up to me, with Sara being the novice in this, but Sara will have none of that and I find myself underneath her, my back against half-heartedly shoved away sheets. My skin burns where it touches hers. The sheer strength and intensity she exudes render me wet and weak.

"Catherine," she says, and it is as if she is drinking in my name.

Everything is wild and new and amazing to her. I can tell she hasn't done this before, she doesn't really know how to balance herself without her hands because she needs them everywhere else on my body instead, and it makes her a bit clumsy, but it is so sexy on her. Watching her figuring everything out. Feeling it with my body.

It's that determination and dedication that is so typically Sara. She is lean and strong and youthful and gentle and fierce and I want to give her everything.

And I do.

There is so much emotion in her hands. If she isn't good at transmitting them into words, – although I am beginning to think she is, if she only lets her guard down enough – she sure has them in her hands. I tremble and writhe under their touch. Sara's lips are hot on my skin, her breath teasing my flesh, her hands claiming me, and when she finally curls those calm, strong fingers up inside me, I can feel them shake in response to me, to my heat, to the wetness she created, and it's that sensation that sends me over the edge.

And oh God… I am in a place I'm sure I've never been before. Not quite like this.

When I finally come down again and open my eyes, she is propped up on an elbow, gazing down at me, her other hand softly stroking through my hair. Who knew Sara Sidle harbored such tenderness.

She looks at me as if I'm the Eighth Wonder of the World, or perhaps even number Six or Five on that list, and something in me snaps. It's a mix of passion and adoration and yearning all in one, and by how Sara responds to my look, her eyes widening, I know that she is as aware as I am of what is happening. Of the fact that she is about to learn just how much she makes me feel.

I push her onto her back and crawl on top of her and I am surprised to find myself near out of my mind with unabashed lust. Everything is new for Sara, which makes it new for me, too, and she is there, and open, and her body moves under my touch.

I finally have her, I can finally grasp her, fistfuls of her hair between my fingers; I have her in that grasp where I figuratively have wanted her for years, and now that it happens, literally, I don't want that leverage over her anymore.

I don't want to predict her. I want her to fly.

And all the leverage she gives me so willingly now, I swear I'll only ever use to give it back to her tenfold. To give her exactly what she needs and wants, and I only hope I'll know what that is. I am thinking that to really know her would take me years, and distantly the idea rises in the back of my mind that perhaps, we have them, these years, and I am looking at her again, how she watches me above her, and she doesn't flinch at my display of passion or possessiveness, her gaze silently challenging me to let go and show her all of me.

For one hormone-crazed moment, I see myself pushing her deep into the mattress, grinding into her, forcefully, until her body melts into my movements, slick with sweat, until she can't breathe anymore and begs me to stop and to touch her more at the same time.

I don't. At least not this time. I'm afraid I will hurt her and I make sure I am careful to not let my whole weight rest upon her now. Her back is still sensitive.

Trailing deep, wet kisses down her front, I can't get enough of how she reacts to me. I'm mesmerized by how the muscles of her stomach coil and flex under even the faintest of touches from me. Licking along a shadow of muscle, I hit a ticklish spot and she instinctively squirms away from me, rolling with the momentum, and before I know it, she is laying before me on her stomach. I can name the exact moment she realizes it, too, because she tenses, unprepared to be that vulnerable in front of me.

"Please relax…" I whisper and emotion makes me choke on my words. "Please let me make you feel good." The sincerity of my tone seems to calm her somewhat. I don't know who hurt her enough to make her so guarded. I know I would kill them, given the chance, but even more so, I want her to feel that she can trust me. That I won't hurt her. That it is okay to let go.

I am staying with the good, uninjured part of her lower back for now, slowly kissing my way up, giving her ample time to adjust to the sensations. I want her to relax. I want to be the one who can make her relax. I want to show her how good this can be. And when her legs finally go limp, allowing me to settle down in between them easily, I can guess what it costs her, and I am all the more determined to make this worth every bit of trust on her part. My heart is beating wildly when I slowly, very slowly, allow my body to sink down onto her back and I have to close my eyes when she instinctively arches into the contact.

I am nibbling at the skin of her neck, and she sighs contentedly, laying still for the moment, but when my hands begin to stroke up and down her sides, grazing the outline of her breasts as if accidentally, she is moving with my touch. "Oh my God," she murmurs quietly, almost too quietly to be heard, and inwardly I am echoing the statement. Her skin is so soft and so hot against mine.

Feeling lightheaded, I prop myself up to look at her, taking in the toned expanse of her back, the intricate set of still healing scars running along it. In watching, my hair tumbles down, falling onto her shoulders, brushing softly across the pinkish, still new skin on her shoulder blades, and she moans openly. I miss a breath and my vision narrows for a moment and I think I can't be so wet again so shortly after what she has done to me.

I didn't know how ultra-sensitive the new skin tissue is, but now that I do, I use it to her advantage. And to mine. My touches are minimal, a brush of my lips here, and sometimes just my breath hitting her skin, heatedly, and I let my hair trail over it again and again. The effect this light, teasing touch has on Sara is indescribable – how her skin flushes, how the muscles and nerves in her back twitch and react to the smallest of sensations. Her whole body is moving underneath me, shaking even, and her back is shining with sweat from the exertion. I can't hold back anymore, firmly licking down her spine with the flat of my tongue, tasting the salt, and Sara nearly throws me off of her when her hips buck into me in response. She groans, one of her hands curling into a fist on the sheets.

Suddenly, I need to see her face, and she turns around into me immediately.

When our eyes meet, I swear I can see the air between us melting into an all new state of aggregation. She reaches up to pull me into a kiss, her teeth on my lips before she sucks my tongue into her mouth. I collapse on top of her, my skin sliding wetly against hers, and my hands are all over her and she takes me in.

She gasps, her body arching into me, and in the end, it is not really a cry, and more surprised than anything else. I see how she struggles to keep her eyes open, to take it all in, but they shut on their own accord and her fingers are digging into my shoulders as she convulses, again and again, and it feels as if she is surrounding me, and at the same time, as if I am surrounding her. My body shudders and clenches in response. She is so beautiful that it hurts.

She doesn't open her eyes again, still struggling to catch her breath. I smooth my hands over her chest until her breathing calms, and then I snuggle up against her, holding her impossibly tight, and actually I want to crawl into her and breathe in all that is she is with my skin. Then her hand is in my hand, holding and caressing gently, and I feel as if I'm under her skin after all.

We must have dozed off, because I know I come awake again when I feel her stroke my face, again tracing it very softly with her fingers. Reverently. I am rolling onto my side, towards her, into the gesture. But when I open my eyes to look at her, I see tears running down her cheeks soundlessly while she gazes at me.

I fumble to sit up, the shock propelling me upwards, but I am still rather worn out and dazed from earlier. Gracelessly, I reach out for her and she doesn't resist as I pull her close, as close as possible, wrapping my arms around her and cradling her against my chest. Her tears are trickling down my sternum. "Sara… what's wrong?" For a moment I am very scared that I triggered some bad memory for her, scared of perhaps having asked too much of her too soon.

Her arms come around me and she gently twines her fingers in my hair. "Nothing." When she speaks, against my chest, her voice is hoarse and so low that I have to strain my ears to hear it. "I just didn't know it could be like this."

And I think that I want to hold her and keep her forever.


She is sleeping next to me, half curled on her stomach, and I am mesmerized by her even breathing, evident in the gentle rise and fall of her torso. I am still holding one of her hands in mine. I know I should probably sleep, too, but I can't. There's too much going on in my mind, and in my body.

So, that's it. My whole world turned upside down, and reassembled into an all new order all in the span of one evening and all simply because Catherine Willows decided to kiss me. And then some.

In retrospect, I should probably have seen it coming. Memorizing her wardrobe indeed. Some fine investigator I am. But that – it simply never occurred to me. I always thought gays knew somehow that they were, well, gay. I'm not sure whether I am gay, but in the light of recent events it would explain a whole lot. Why the guys didn't work out for me, not in the long run – perhaps it wasn't about what happened to me back then after all. Perhaps it was simply because they were guys.

It would also explain what happened to me last night. To us. Between us. I don't have the words for it yet, and perhaps I never will. This is so new still, and I'll admit it feels weird – but the weirdest sensation of all is that it feels absolutely right.

It fits me.

She fits me.

Last night, and I marvel at the irony of it, I was a clueless investigator. This morning, I'm a believer. My body feels better than I can ever remember and I can't stop smiling. And when I look over at Catherine, the sensation of seeing her resonates through my entire being. As if I am seeing her with my whole body. This morning, I'm feeling it's possible that I might be falling in love. With another woman. Although, granted, this has been building for weeks now. Perhaps even longer. The best foes, as the saying goes, make the best mates after all.

Catherine was shocked that I'd never even as much as kissed another woman before, but I think if I had, I'd have figured out the energy between us a lot sooner. To say that a few things in my life make more sense from this new perspective would be the understatement of the year. Some puzzle pieces suddenly make an unarguable lot of sense. Like Miss Shoemaker in elementary school. Or Sheila in Junior High.

I feel naked, on more than just a technical level, but for the first time I feel very strong like that. For the first time ever since back then, I feel as if nothing can harm me, even though I am without armor. I don't need any. I am right in my body.

The 'right in my body' phrase sounds suspiciously like my mother, and for a moment I'm thinking what my parents would say if they knew this. That I consider seriously dating an older female colleague with a kid. It might just be queer enough to make them happy, but for them, it might be more about that political fact than about how I actually feel.

Looking over at Catherine again, taking in the sight of her with every single thing that is me, I couldn't say what exactly it is I am feeling for her. It is much too soon to put any words to it, and perhaps there will never be any words that could encompass all that which I feel. I only know that it makes me happy to be with her.

Being with Catherine is like a whole new world, and as if she and I are the first and only people in this world, and I want to discover everything about it and never stop. Which is crazy, given the fact that in every relationship I've been in before, I was always much more concerned about keeping an eye on the exit, and not on venturing deeper into another life. Stroking the fingers still held between mine, I feel no desire whatsoever to look for an exit at all. I don't want a shower, a coffee and a quick leave.

I want her. And shower with her, and coffee with her. And a lot of other things with her.

I lean over and gently kiss her between the shoulder blades. They're smooth and soft, not marred like mine are now, but Catherine said she likes them just as they are. She is shifting sleepily under the touch of my lips, squeezing my hand, somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.

She wants me here. Me. I wonder for how long she knew this, knew that she wanted this – she said that it happened somewhere over that baby blue top for her, which I still don't really understand. And she vowed that all she had planned for yesterday was to ask me for a date.

I think it's safe to say that she got her unspoken wish and then some and I can't help but smirk at the thought. I am so glad that she kissed me. I don't know when I would have figured it out on my own.

She was so surprised I hadn't done this before, asking me why not. I trail a series of butterfly kisses down her back, asking myself that same question and finding the answer right under my lips. Guess I waited until I got to score the jackpot. And boy did I ever.

I finally grasp why people can make such a fuss about sex. It used to be a fun thing to do. Hot, on occasion. But this… holy mamma. This is unreal. Mind-blowing doesn't even begin to describe it. I suddenly understand a lot better why people can steal, cheat and kill for this feeling. Although I might have taken her expression of 'so good it made me weep' a little bit too literally. I didn't mean to scare her. It was just too much. Too right. A bit like seeing the light after they dug Lindsey and me out of the debris, but without having known light before.

She was afraid she'd hurt me. Changed my life, yes. Hurt me, no. She held me so tightly that I didn't know anymore where her body ended and mine began, we were both shaking, and that moment was even more intense than the lovemaking before.

She said she needed me to touch her then, and she made me look into her eyes, telling me that she needed me to know what she feels. She made me recline, carefully, on my back, straddling my hips. Twining one of my hands with hers, she put my hand onto her, holding it in place, pushing herself into it, and she moved above me, slowly, looking into my eyes the entire time.

I don't think it's humanly possible to feel more than I felt right then. As if she was filling me just by her look, moving under my skin and into the heart of me. And she was right, I could feel what she felt, down to her every heartbeat. I think I can even now.

I'm still amazed I didn't explode from sheer sensation and emotion. And yet here I am, and she is laying next to me, resting peacefully.

If there's such a thing as smug adoration, then that's what I'm feeling right now. She moves under my lips again, coming awake, and I swear that there isn't a thing in the world that could ever be more erotic than Catherine. Particularly Catherine in motion. I draw myself up to place another kiss between her shoulder blades, biting down lightly.


The way she moans my name is driving me wild. I can feel the blood pound in my chest, in my fingers, all through my body. I guess I'm about passion after all. And perhaps even about romance.

At that realization, I can't help breaking into a wide grin. If Catherine's utterances last night are anything to go by, I'm not too bad with the passion thing, either. When I asked her, she all but growled and then she was on top of me again and I forgot all about the question. I never knew I could be like this. And she… She is the most intoxicating mix of gentle and wild, of fierce and playful, of demanding and yielding. So mindful of my body. So aware of its wants, the displayed and the hidden ones. She knows what I need even if I don't. And the way she fits into my arms is so perfect that indeed, it made me weep.

I'm suddenly thinking that it might be a good idea to send her flowers. Simply because. And I think I'd like to invite her out to a really grand dinner date and gaze at her across a table for a whole night, no matter how much of an idiot I'll make of myself. Or perhaps we could have a picnic, in the park, together with Lindsey – and with real food, not the junk she usually eats there. And I could leave her a post-it note on the fridge when I'm leaving later today. On the upper part, where Lindsey can't reach yet. And I really want to ask her to dance with me sometime, even if it is only in her living room on a night off.

I know that I am getting wildly ahead of myself, but suddenly I'm thinking of a thousand things I want to give her and do for her, and I know I just might, in time, if she lets me.

For the start, I think I could simply kiss her again. Which I do.

Catherine turns around and blindly kisses me back, her hands and legs entwining with mine, and then it's only her body and mine and it is perfect all over again.


I know what's going on. I'm not stupid, but I think they are somehow scared to tell me. So yesterday in the Kingdom of Math bedtime story that Sara always tells me when she's over on a night off, I had her marry the two Ones from the 1/1 fraction because they are two and also one in the end, and it's a thing that works scientifically and with the heart, so that is good. I also told Sara that both of the Ones were girls, and I don't know who blushed harder, she or Mom.

Sara is over at our place all of the time now, which is really cool. I like Sara. She's a bit like my secret best friend, although she's actually too old to be cool. But she is. She often even stays over on work nights, so that she is there with Mom when I get back home from school. Sometimes she picks me up, too, and then we go to the park, or she teaches me funny math things that my other friends can't do yet.

When Sara tells me bedtime stories, Mom listens in most of the time, even when she's in the other room – at first Sara was embarrassed about that, but now she isn't anymore, I think, except for yesterday, but I guess that was more about the two Princesses of One of the Fraction Clan.

I think Sara is in love with Mom. I can see it in the way she looks at her.

With Mom, it's a bit embarrassing because she gets shiny eyes and sometimes she's laughing about things that are really not that funny when Sara is around, but that's okay, I guess. I saw them kissing on the couch last week when I came home from school early and had caught a ride with Stephanie's mom. They didn't see me, though, so I tiptoed out again and made some noise in the hallway. It's weird to think they're kissing because Mom used to do that with Daddy, sometimes, though not nearly as much as she does with Sara now. I can tell when they have been kissing when I enter a room, too, because then their eyes are big and they are breathing funnily.

I even talked to Sara about my dad, when she asked me if it was okay that she was over so much, and that she wasn't trying to push away Daddy. I thought she was being weird, I mean, Daddy and Sara are completely different. Daddy would just get me things when I asked him, but Sara always makes sure it's okay with Mom. Like when she gave me the pocketknife, Mom didn't really like it, and they were talking about it for a long time. But Sara had promised it, and she says she always keeps her promises. Sara also has a lot more time for me than Daddy had, and she always listens when I want to tell her something. But I guess that is also because she works at night, so she has more time for me during the day. Daddy didn't work at night, I think.

Also with Sara, there is no yelling and she never makes Mom cry. Only in a good way, like how she cries sometimes when I tell her I love her. I think Sara has told her that she loves her, too, because she whispered something in her ear yesterday at the park and then Mom was crying a bit, but she looked very happy.

Tonight they both have the night off again, and Sara told Mr. Grissom on the phone that she couldn't do any extra work because she has to take me out to the movies and dinner. Me, and Mom.

She also promised me I'd get ice-cream at some point. Sara is so cool.


Sara is nervous today. It is her turn to pick me up from school, so it's Mom's turn to make us dinner before they both head to work. But as soon as I get in the car I can tell that Sara is nervous. Sometimes she is nervous when things are going badly at work, and then she lets me hold her, and she talks about faraway things, like what she did when she was a girl. Sara has really weird parents. But Sara is not that kind of nervous today. It's different.

I get my hug and I notice that she is wearing another top I picked out for her, it's red and low-cut and she didn't really want to buy it, but I told her that Mom would like it and then she bought it without further protest. And I think Mom did like it. She made gooey eyes at Sara again. But with Sara officially being Mom's 'Girlfriend', I guess that's okay. Although I know Mom also calls her 'Lover' when they think I'm not listening. We even had a party about it after a few months, with all the people from their work, and I was allowed to be up until I fell asleep on my own, and Nick and I beat Greg and Warrick on the Playstation. And when Mom and Sara were 'together' for a year, they allowed me to stay with Stephanie for a whole weekend and went on a trip somewhere. Sara really makes Mom allow me the coolest things.

"What's up, Sara?" I ask her and she smiles a nervous little smile.

"I need your help with shopping again," she admits.

I grin. Shopping with Sara is fun. "Do you need another shirt to impress Mommy with?"

But Sara shakes her head. "Actually, I was thinking about getting something for her."

"Not a shirt," I am guessing from the look on her face. Sara wouldn't be that nervous about a shirt, unless it's pink and I would try to make her wear it. I actually did that, once, and I thought it was cute, but Sara said she was not really comfortable in pink, so she bought it in a smaller size for me instead and we got her a deep blue one, and Mom liked it. Come to think of, it doesn't really matter much what we buy, Mom always tells me I look great, and then she gets this funny expression when she looks at Sara and I know that I can watch a lot of morning cartoon TV the next day because they're sleeping in.

"Not a shirt," Sara says. "What would you think if I moved in with you and Catherine?" she suddenly asks.

"You are living at our place already," I point out. "Most of the time, anyway."

Sara blinks, and then she smiles. "Would you mind if I was there all of the time?"

"That would just be so cool!" I hug her again, all excited. "I mean, your place is fine too, but it would be cool if you could just stay with us all the time." Sara's place really is pretty nice. A few times she has been babysitting me there when she had the night off and Mom had to work. We always do my homework first, and then we hear loud music with her super stereo system and eat ice-cream until we are almost sick and watch really old cartoons from when Sara was a kid. "Did Mommy ask you to move in?" I want to know and I think she should have asked me about it, too.

"No. Never without asking you!" Sara smiles and I nod. Then she looks nervous again. "But I want to ask her if she wants me to, and so I thought I'd talk about it with you first."

"I think it's a good idea," I tell her. I like that about Sara. She always asks for my opinion on things, and not just to ask, but she really listens. Of course, when she does that, Mom goes gooey eyed again. She's been doing it a lot since Sara is around. She also gets mad a lot less. "So, what should we get her?" I ask.

Sara swallows and for a moment I think she wants to buy Mom that new car she has been talking about. I wonder if I could make Sara get Mom to allow me to drive, too. "I was thinking about a ring." Sara says and she looks very nervous suddenly.

"You want to marry Mom?" She's looking at me in shock and I roll my eyes at her. I know what buying rings means. Geez, I'm not five years old anymore and I know that they're 'together-together'.

"Yes," Sara says and her voice sounds weak. "If she wants to, that is. And if you want to. – What do you say?"

I think it's cool. If my friends at school ask me who Sara is, I could tell them that she's married to Mom instead of that she's just Mom's girlfriend. I could say she belongs to my family. And that they can't have Sara, ever, because Sara belongs to us, no matter how much Stephanie envies me about her. And she does, ever since Sara first picked me up from school after she and I were stuck in the explosion. "It would have to be pretty," I say, trying to think of the jewelry Mom keeps in her top dresser. "Mom likes golden things. And she likes them with sparkle."

Sara just looks at me funnily. "So you're okay with it?" she asks.

Adults, really. I roll my eyes at her again. "Of course," I say.

Sara makes sure I have my seatbelt fastened properly – sometimes she is worse than Mom is. "Okay," she says then and she starts the car. "Let's go get your Mom some sparkle."

When we come out of a store much later where there was only jewelry and watches, Sara and I have picked a pale gold ring with a flat square stone in the middle. The shopkeeper said it was a diamond. Sara said it was 'hideously expensive', but she bought it anyway. The store was fun, too. Everyone wore pretty suits and ties and they called me "Miss", and one of them even went to get me an ice-cream across the street while we were looking at all the different rings.

I wanted to take the ring home with us right away, but Sara said they had to adjust it to fit Mom's hands. So now this is our secret and Sara and I are making plans of how to ask Mom about the whole moving in thing. And the marrying. I think Sara should go out with her to dinner, like in the movies, and dress up nicely. And then she will only have to smile, and Mom will say yes to anything anyway. I'll have to make sure to remind Sara that she asks Mom to get me the new Britney Spears recording, too. Mom said I couldn't have it since it was too 'explicit'.

I think it's best when Mom and Sara do the big question thing on their own, though. I don't want to be too obvious about the CD, and also I bet Mom is going to get gooey eyes again, and I think she will be crying, too – and perhaps Sara will be crying as well, and they will probably want to kiss and stuff, and I don't think I need to see that.

I've been telling Mom for the half past hour that she should wear the blue dress tonight because I know Sara likes it. A lot. Sara told me that. Mom keeps insisting it's 'over the top' and she also keeps asking me what's up with me tonight, but I can't give away Sara's and my secret. But I get her to put on the blue dress, and I assure her that she looks beautiful. She does. Sara will probably forget to breathe again. That happens sometimes when Mom dresses up for her.

Earlier this week, Sara and I went to the fancy jewelry store again after school and picked up the ring, and the salesman called me 'Miss' again, but I didn't get any ice-cream this time.

Sara is going to ask Mom tonight, and she promised me that I could stay up late so she could tell me what Mom said when they get home. I even saw her slip the babysitter some extra money for it. I wonder if I can make her believe that Sara also meant to tell her that I should be allowed some ice-cream for that money.

The doorbell rings and I am going to open it because Mom is still fiddling with her earrings. Sara looks nervous, again, but she looks great, in a short black dress, it's low-cut like the red top I made her buy, and she is wearing shoes that make her even taller. Mom is so going to give her that funny look again. Sara wears lipstick, too, which she doesn't do very often and I think it is because Mom always kisses it off and then her face looks funny.

"Do you have it?" I whisper, edging closer.

"Sure thing," Sara whispers back and points to the small purse slung over her arm. She opens it for me to see, and I see the small black velvet box inside of it. "Wish me luck, okay?" she requests, and I have to roll my eyes at her yet again. "I don't need to. She loves you."

She smiles widely, and hugs me for a moment. "And I love her. And you," she says. "And you're a damn smart girl."

Mom hasn't even appeared yet, and the gooey mood is starting already. Perhaps I can get the babysitter to make me some popcorn.

But before I can sneak off, Mom comes down the stairs, and the thing with the gooey looks gets really, really bad. They just stand there and stare at each other. Adults are so weird sometimes. It takes me a couple of minutes to get them to talk again, and then to leave the house. Sara takes Mom's hand as they walk out and Mom leans closer to her. They look good together. I think from all the kids in my class, I have the best looking Mom with the best looking girlfriend. Then I head off towards the kitchen. I know where the microwave popcorn is.

I wake up because I hear a key in the lock and noises in the hallway. I need a moment to realize I am on the couch in the living room and then I remember that I wanted to stay up until Sara and Mom got home so Sara could tell me what Mom said when she asked her.

The front door closes shut, and I hear something thud against the wall, and some rustling which must be from their dresses.

"Lindsey's asleep," I hear Mom whisper and her voice is weird and low. She probably looked at Sara and forgot to breathe again, because her breathing's all funny right now.

"No, she's not," Sara says, and looking over the back of the couch I can see Mom kissing Sara's neck, and Sara has her hands on Mom's shoulders.

"Just for the record," Mom says, "My daughter is asleep at this time of night, while my fiancé is about to get paid for the diamond on my finger in the currency of her choice." Her voice is really weird now. I wonder what the funny word with 'f' means and then Mom starts kissing Sara again. I'm beginning to think that Mom said yes.

"She's not asleep," Sara repeats, and tries to steer Mom towards the living room where I am, but somehow, they're moving very slowly. "I promised her she could stay up so we would tell her right away when we got home."

Suddenly, Mom straightens up and she stops kissing Sara. Sara smirks, and I get off the couch. Walking closer, I see that Sara's lipstick is gone again. They're both smiling when they hug me, and then I take Mom's hand, and I see that she wears the ring we picked out for her. It is the same color as her hair, and it looks very pretty on her.

"So, did you say yes?" I ask her and Mom blinks, staring at me. I hope she did say yes. I want to keep Sara.

"She did," Sara says, grinning at me and slipping a square-shaped package into my hands. "To all things."

I hug them both again, but then I have to tear the wrapping off my new CD. Mom says I can't put it in now, and that I should get back to sleep, but from how she looks at Sara and how Sara looks back at her, I think I'll have a lot of time in the morning to listen to it for as long as I want.

The End

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